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Law 101: Legal Guide for the Forensic Expert

Discoverable Information

Photo of a law book binders. Caption reads 'Discoverable Information'
National Institute of Justice (NIJ) (see reuse policy).

Under the federal rules, the following are subject to disclosure:

  1. Defendant's oral statement(s).
  2. Defendant's written or recorded statement(s).
  3. Defendant's prior record.
  4. Documents and objects.
  5. Reports of examinations and tests.
  6. Expert witnesses.

Information may be disclosed in a variety of ways. Some examples of discovery components include:

  • request for production of documents, items, samples, property and specimens.

  • Verbal deposition, or the informal process of taking sworn testimony from witnesses (including experts) before trial.

  • Disclosure of oral, written or recorded statements (frequently found in law enforcement reports).

  • Copying or inspecting documents, books, papers, data, photographs and computer records.

  • Test results.

  • Written interrogatories or questions posed to an opposing party or witness.

  • Physical and mental examination of parties.

  • Requests for admission (often designed to eliminate issues from trial).

When an expert is expected to provide opinion testimony in the case, a written summary of the anticipated testimony must include a description of the opinions, the bases and reasons for those opinions, and the witness's qualifications.

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